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Former president Nelson Mandela will become the first recipient of the Ubuntu Award for his contribution to South Africa's heritage, the National Heritage Council (NHC) said on Thursday.
NHC spokesperson Danny Goulkan said the award, to be presented to Mandela on Saturday, was the pinnacle award within the country's heritage awards.
"President Mandela embodies the truest spirit of Ubuntu, a truly unique South African philosophy of putting people first," said chief executive, advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa.
Mancotywa added that using diversity to unite people was something Mandela did with "great passion and conviction". He said that while it was not simple to define, ubuntu was a way of life that united people despite their differences.
He said the award aimed to become South Africa's version of international awards such as the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for humanitarian efforts, or the Oscars.
The Ubuntu Award would be unveiled at this year's three-day ubuntu 'imbizo' (meeting), being held at Botshabelo in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
The 'imbizo', ending on Saturday, would mark the beginning of President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to make ubuntu a reality.
"People from around South Africa will seek the best ways of making this complex African philosophy of ubuntu practical and valuable to all spheres of life as well as nation building," Mancotywa said.
The aim of the 'imbizo' would be to provide the public with the opportunity to simplify and understand ubuntu.
Mandela would be handed the award at his Houghton offices on Saturday. -- Sapa